What started as a wedding video production company in 1978, Ornico Media has over the years morphed into a media monitoring giant, providing brand and media insights clients across the continent.
At the helm of the group is the eccentric Oresti Patricios, who is passionate about media, research, and empowerment. We chatted to him to find out more about the business, his plans for the future and what it takes to succeed as a media entrepreneur.
Q: Why did you decide to branch out with your own business/venture, rather than work for other companies or corporates?
A: It was firstly a necessity really. As a teenager at university my student loan obviously paid for my studies but I needed extra pocket money to get cool clothes and go partying but also to do some travelling. I was approached by two friends to start a business with them and I grasped the opportunity. The one provided the startup funding while the other partner and I ran the day to day part of the business.
Q: Give us a brief history of your media venture?
A: We started Ornico in 1978 as the very first wedding video production company in South Africa. Video was still new and weddings were still being shot on film, a much more expensive medium. We were then offered some freelance work by advertising agency J. Walter Thompson (JWT). While working with the agency we identified a need for easy access to competitive information by both agencies and clients.
Q: What gave you the idea? How did it begin, and how has your business journey unfolded?
A: When we realised that there was a need for competitor information we started monitoring television advertising and providing competitive insights in 1984. We then expanded our offering to include radio, print and more advertising mediums. We also went on the acquisition trail and purchased some competitors, particularly in the news monitoring and social media tracking space. This enhanced and expanded our services to also monitor news, communication and social media and eventually to provide deep reputation, measurement and brand analysis services.
Q: What challenges did you face as a media entrepreneur and how did you overcome them?
A: The biggest challenge any entrepreneur face is obviously finding clients and growing the business to a sustainable level. My journey was no different. But once this was achieved it was easier to step back and let my team make decisions and take responsibility. Getting the right people who share your vision and purpose is critical for the success of the business.
Q: Has there been a moment of success that has really stood out for you and that is your favourite on your journey?
A: There has definitely been a few. An international competitor, listed on the FTSE100 on the London Stock Exchange, wanted to buy Ornico but we refused. They threatened to outspend us and close us down if we did not sell. Seven years later they closed down and we employed their staff!
Winning the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 1996, presented by President Nelson Mandela was a serious honour.
Another highlight was opening our first branch in Lagos, Nigeria. It was challenging but the knowledge we gained from this experience was immense. A few global awards recognising our work have also been high points.
Q: To what do you attribute your success?
A: It is really about being passionate and always focusing on growth. Not just financially but also having a purpose of growing people, knowledge, being curious and ultimately growing your clients as well. I have to say that the support I get from my wife and kids is phenomenal and always helps me get through the inevitable bad patches.
Q: What characteristics do you think make a successful media entrepreneur?
A: You need to be curious, identify opportunities, track the trends and make predictions. You need to take chances and be innovative, offering services no one else can provide. And then you need to persevere and relentlessly chase that vision.
Q: Your advice to young media entrepreneurs or those looking to start new media businesses?
A: It is a difficult question but I think the answer is the same for all new entrepreneurial businesses, not only media entrepreneurs. Understand the market, understand the pain points, innovate, disrupt and persevere, persevere, persevere.
Q: What next from you and your media company/venture? What can people expect? Exciting upcoming projects?
A: There are so many new and exciting projects. We cannot ignore the Fourth Industrial revolution so machine learning, Artificial Intelligence, Virtual and Augmented realities are all in the pipeline. How all these technologies can complement each other will certainly make for interesting times.
Q: What, in your view, needs to happen to encourage more media entrepreneurs, and not just that, help them stay the course?
A: I believe a lot more collaboration needs to happen. A business-friendly Government and better policies will certainly also help to maintain and grow the industry.
Q: How do you ‘pay it forward’?
A: Ornico is passionate about growth, particularly in knowledge, so we invest a lot in our employees by funding their university and other studies. We have also created our own Ornico Academy which does not only do internal training, but which also forms a big part of our enterprise initiatives, teaching young entrepreneurs about the basics of marketing, advertising, communication and social media. We also mentor several young entrepreneurs and are involved with many NGOs and other organisations and associations. Education is one of the most critical aspects which will not only make South Africa but the whole continent a better place for all.
Q: What quote or passage do you think encapsulates you and your approach to business and success?
A: I am altruistic and believe the world constantly becomes a better place, but you need to work on it with your own unique purpose and vision. One of my favourite quotes is by Theodore Parker – “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Keep questioning yourself, the world, society and trust that in your small way, you can improve it. I love mentoring young entrepreneurs, but it’s a two-way street, we both benefit from this exchange. I say you need both agility and stability.
Follow Michael Bratt on Twitter @MichaelBratt8
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